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The Birchbark House


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This sequel to The Birchbark House continues the saga of Omakayas, now "nine winters old," a member of the Ojibwe tribe who reside on an island in Lake Superior. The tranquility of the little village is threatened when word arrives that white leaders are going to force Omakayas's people farther west into enemy territory. While some men from the tribe-including Omakayas's father and Fishtail, her sister's special friend-travel in different directions to investigate the rumor, the rest of the villagers remain. They struggle to regain normalcy by returning to their routine of hunting, fishing, weaving and gathering. Erdrich once again shows what is was like to grow up Native American during the same time period about which Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote. The unadorned narrative, sprinkled with ancient legends, clearly expresses not only the traditions and rituals of the Ojibwe but also their values and religious beliefs. Erdrich's pencil drawings (somewhat reminiscent of the style of Garth Williams's illustrations for the Little House series) capture the mood and spirit of such characters as Pinch, Omakayas's mischievous little brother and noble Old Tallow, who gives Omakayas a precious gift. Like its prequel, this meticulously researched novel offers an even balance of joyful and sorrowful moments while conveying a perspective of America's past that is rarely found in history books. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Gr 4-6-The melody of a lone flute and the beat of a native drum begin each cassette, setting the mood for this Native American story about an eight-year old Ojibwa girl. Omakayas and her family live on the island of the Golden Breasted Woodpecker in Lake Superior in 1847. Based on her own family history, Louise Erdrich has crafted a richly textured historical novel (Hyperion, 1999). Nicolle Littrell's slow, clear narration is rich and inviting. Ojibwa words are smoothly woven into the narration, and their meaning is clear from context. Littrell gives voice to each well-developed character with varied vocal inflections. We observe a year's cycle of activity in her family and the Indian community. Eventually we learn about "the chimookoman" (the white man) as Omakayas overhears her father and his friends talking around the campfire. Although chimookoman lurks on the fringes of the story, he is central to the plot. A white man brings smallpox to the community and Omakayas can't save her baby brother. In this carefully crafted story, we intimately feel the effect of the Westward Expansion of the United States from the point of view of a loving Ojibwa family. Listeners who prefer action to descriptive narration will find the pace slow. The first of a projected series of books, this audiobook will be a fine addition to school and public libraries.-Bonnie Bolton, Cleveland Public Library, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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